…And the first postcard goes to Isabelle Kosmala!

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In June of 2008 I got my first computer and my first online sport was to join  postcrossing.com .  I heard about it from a friend and loved the idea that although it’s an internet based project the end result is real handwritten mail! I already had a big stock pile of postcards from my travels and was intrigued to make contact with people all over the world. I clicked the magic address request button and that invisible wheel of fortune gave me Isabelle in Grevenbroich, a town near to Cologne in Germany. Her favorite type of postcard was one with horses so I sent her my one horse card which was a 100 year old real photograph from South Dakota. Seven days later she registered my card and sent a warm message of thanks and that was all. We did not continue to correspond until some months later.

The company where I worked was closing for 2 weeks between Christmas and New years eve so I started searching for a cheap airfare anywhere in the world during that time. I have to admit, Germany wasn’t my first second or seventh choice but the warm weather countries were not offering any deals. When Dusseldorf presented itself for $500 round trip, I said “So be it!” My friend and co-worker, Cassy, said yes to Germany without blinking or thinking. This is a girl who wears sweaters in the summertime but her desire to travel to another country prevailed.

We started planning our trip by each buying a German travel guide and meeting for dinner. We sat at a table near the window/doors that opened to the sidewalk. Suddenly, about ten people stopped, stared, pointed and proceeded to surround our table. A beautiful Bavarian accent said “Do you want to go to Germany?” They were a group of German students who insisted we must go to Munich. The whole scenario was too cosmic to ignore so Munich was a must!  We did end up staying there for two days but thats another story and off the postcrossing track….

I began to think it would be cool to meet up with someone from Postcrossing. I had not been corresponding with anyone beyond the official one card so I sent a message to a few people and Isa responded with enthusiasm. We had planned to start our trip in Cologne and she offered to organize a meeting of Postcrossers. The plan was set to meet on the left side of the giant Cathedral by the stairs, by a postcard shop. Great! We planned our itinerary, bought our train tickets jumped on a plane and arrived in the winter wonderland the day after Christmas.

The day came for our meet up and we arrived at the left side of the cathedral and found a shop that sold postcards by the stairs. There was more then one stairway but we were confident at first that we waited in the right spot. Alas, 15…20…30 minutes and no German postcrossers 😦  I told Cassy to wait there while I ran around the entire Cathedral trying to find these people! The other possible set of stairs was by a camera shop but I didn’t see anyone and I didn’t think they sold postcards. After an hour we decided to start walking around the area looking in cafes and card shops. I had seen a picture of Isabelle and another guy called Arcon who wears a black leather cape/trench coat and matching leather wide brimmed hat. There were a lot of shops and it was a big area to scour. It could have been a wild goose chase but we were desperate and kept looking. Then I saw him standing next to a postcard rack! It was Arcon in all his full length leather glory! I approached and asked “Are you Arcon?” (duh) He looked at me like I was insane and he didn’t understand so I tried rephrasing the question a couple more times and finally threw in Isa’s name. Voila! Yes, he was the man and someone went to fetch Isa. Yay, we found them. They had been waiting for us by the stairs next to that camera shop. The moral of that story is certain details can get lost in translation so next time a cell phone is the way to go.

The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping for postcards followed by sitting in cafe, talking, writing and signing many cards. Cassy was not a postcrosser but she got in on the signing and was thoroughly entertained! It was so interesting to have this whole experience sprout from a single postcard. Isa was and is a die hard member of the postcrossing forum and has gone to many different meet ups in Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland and all the way to Iran! She and her husband, Norbert met me once more in Antwerp in 2009 and we have stayed connected through periodic cards and emails. I’m hoping one day she will make her way to Chicago.  I will always have one eye searching for the perfect horse card that will have Isabelle’s name on it!

When I think back on this trip and all the beauty we saw in each town, I still feel that the meet up in Cologne was the highlight. Making friends will always outshine seeing the sights.

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3 Responses to “…And the first postcard goes to Isabelle Kosmala!”


  1. 1 Isabelle April 1, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Ohhh, I LOVE IT!!!
    What a great blog!

  2. 2 Inga April 1, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    You are a global friend, who I am proud to say a local one for me ♥

  3. 3 ipuenktchen February 19, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    better late than never…. dear felice, finally I’m able to read your great blog! I adore your style of writing, it’s so amazing and worth to spend time!!!!!!!
    I wish I could be one day one of your friends you met!!!!!!!! what a gorgeous thing – the postcrossing idea!!!!!!!
    all the best for you!! ipuenktchen


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